Commissioner Lorraine-Cochran-Johnson is a part of the Legislative Branch of DeKalb County Government and developing legislation is at the core of what she does as a DeKalb County Commissioner. With that in mind, Commissioner Cochran-Johnson would like to share recent local and state-wide legislation that addresses several issues that are imperative to creating a better DeKalb County through establishing the letter of the law. Each piece of legislation is currently either before the State Delegation as a part of the legislative session or before the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners for consideration. To better help you understand Commissioner Cochran-Johnson’s pending legislation, below is a preamble of the essential elements of the proposed laws.
In order for each piece of proposed legislation to become a law on the state level, it must receive a majority vote of support from the House and Senate. Locally proposed legislation that is to become an ordinance must receive a majority vote of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners. Also, it is important to note that Commissioner Cochran-Johnson’s legislation is often birthed from simple conversations with constituents who contact the District 7 office, seeking assistance with finding solutions to difficult issues. Thereafter, Commissioner Cochran-Johnson engages in research along with the District 7 Chief of Staff, Dr. G. Leah Davis, to craft laws and policies to solve the issue. Several community members including Amos King, Sandy G. Johnson, and State Representative Viola Davis, as well as Betsy Eagers and Vicki Hood of the Peachtree Creek Greenway, Inc. deserve special recognition for their care of DeKalb County communities.
Commissioner Cochran-Johnson strives to ensure that the laws and ordinances she drafts today progressively move DeKalb County and Georgia forward to make a better place for us all.
As a result of several acts of violence, murders, and drive-by shootings at gas and service stations, Commissioner Cochran-Johnson has developed legislation to address these acts and ensure safety at high-risk business establishments throughout DeKalb County. Commissioner Cochran-Johnson’s legislation establishes guidelines for mandatory video surveillance at such locations with a minimum 4MP resolution for clarity of footage; requires minimum active video coverage of 75 feet; creates guidelines for video storage; gives visual notice of public of safety cameras; establishes fines for non-compliance; ties ability to renew business license to compliance; defines high-risk businesses for legal purposes; and, allows DeKalb County to extend such requirements to any business deemed high-risk to ensure public safety.
After several months of revision and cogitation, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners approved the Video Surveillance Ordinance on Tuesday, December 13, 2022. It will officially go into effect June 30, 2023, at which time all existing convenience stores must be in compliance with all provisions of the ordinance.
On December 20, 2022, the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners unanimously passed comprehensive text amendments to the DeKalb Zoning Ordinance to set distance requirements with the intent to diminish crime and mitigate negative outcomes linked to small box discount retail stores (SBDRS) within DeKalb communities.
The legislation was authored and introduced by Commissioner Lorraine Cochran-Johnson in February 2019 out of concern for concentrated growth of SBDRS within targeted census tracts in DeKalb County. Later that December, a moratorium was enacted that halted the issuance of new business licenses to small box discount retail stores.
The text amendments came following almost three years of discussions and research resulting in a study by Georgia State University which recommended that DeKalb County treat SBDRS and convenience stores similarly, and subject them to similar zoning regulations to eliminate or reduce negative effects.
As a result of growing gun violence both locally and nationally, I have developed legislation to address these acts and ensure safety at high-risk business establishments throughout DeKalb County. My legislation outlines a comprehensive approach to gun violence in order to address this growing crisis that includes the adoption of common-sense gun control legislation, the enforcement of laws that govern the criminal misuse of guns, and the expansion of research. In addition, the resolution urges the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to restore funding removed under the Dickey Amendment for firearms and gun violence prevention research.
At present, Georgia is ranked #7 in the top 10 worst states for affordable housing by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Higher rents are a national phenomenon and in 2021 rental rates rose in 48 of the nation’s 50 largest metro cities, with the average monthly cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Georgia rising more than 20% in 2021. With this information and other extensive research, I have drafted legislation that will establish a rental registry that enables researchers and policymakers to study the business practices of corporate landlords so counties can respond with appropriate local measures. Moreover, it will implement broad-based tenant protections, as the growing rental affordability challenges point to the need for nationwide, broad-based tenant protections to limit rent increases, ancillary fees, and fines and to promote security of tenure to ensure that the property rights of landlords do not take priority over the fundamental role of housing in supporting the life, safety, and welfare of all citizens. In addition, it will urge me and my fellow colleagues to consider limiting the market share of corporate landlords, through legislation, as policymakers explore these possibilities to disincentivize their expansion, stabilize rent, and increase the pool of homes available for purchase by first-time buyers and families.